Late Flightline F4riday – A Night in the Air War Over Vietnam, Dec. 26 1972 August 16, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
Linebacker II was the most intensive period of aerial bombardment of the Vietnam War. It was the culmination of 7+ years of desultory, on-again, off-again bombing campaigns conducted with ludicrous limitations that rendered the United States single largest military advantage – overwhelming air power – almost neutered. Thousands of men died, hundreds more languished for years in hellish North Vietnamese prisons, as politicians in Washington dithered, committing just enough forces to kill numerous North Vietnamese and Americans, but never enough to be decisive. It was the worst aerial campaign in US history.
Linebacker II was, in essence, the final conducting of the air war the Joint Chiefs had been calling for since 1965. In 12 days of bombing, they rendered North Vietnam defenseless, crippled, and ready to end the war on terms the US at that time found acceptable, even if those terms were as false and illusory as the entire war had been. That is to say, it allowed the US to get (most? some?) of the POWs home, to save face, and to more or less abandon the South Vietnamese to a grim fate, especially after a hyper-liberal Congress was elected in 1974 in the wake of Watergate, which cut off almost all US aid to the beleaguered nation. But it was seen as very preferable to simply an out and out surrender, or an even more cold-hearted and open abandonment of a long-proclaimed vital ally.
What is presented in the video below is a series of cockpit recordings of internal B-52 intercoms and inter-aircraft radio chatter during the Linebacker II mission of Dec. 26, 1972. The aircraft where the recording was made was B-52D Lilac 2 out of Andersen AFB, Guam. The campaign had begun on December 18, then the Nixon Administration imposed a 36 hour bombing halt for Christmas. This allowed the North Vietnamese to reconstitute their almost depleted defenses a bit, and made the mission of Dec. 26 one of the harriest of them all. By Dec. 30, the lat night of the raids, the North was out of SAMs, most of their radars were destroyed, and they had no effective way to respond. But that was not the case this night, when several aircraft were lost.
The video includes a map which shows the aircraft which are involved, their call signs, and their slow progress over North Vietnam. It is really an impressive piece of work, and a valuable contribution to the historical record.